Word Made Print: Reformation and the History of the Book

Catholic Reformation

Print served papal efforts to unify its Catholic theology, texts, and rites in response to the Reformation. This project included censorship: for those lucky enough to obtain the license to publish, a world of Catholic consumers awaited. One such fortunate was Christophe Plantin, of Antwerp, who published more than forty editions of the officially approved Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another Plantin triumph was the Missale Romanum, the official Catholic liturgy. Its engravings by Peter Paul Rubens and other artists inspired Catholic devotion and decorative arts worldwide. Forbidden books went underground or were published beyond the censors’ reach: the popular Spanish prayer book, Horas de nuestra Señora (1560), forbidden by the Office of the Index in Valladolid, was printed in France. Censorship also harmed Plantin: in 1571, Pope Pius V forbade all editions of the bestselling Little Garden of the Soul (Hortulus animae). His 1571 edition would be Plantin’s last.